Below are a number of steps once you have found head lice on your child: First off, stay calm. You are not alone as head lice are common, spread easily, and exist throughout the world. Lice are a harmless, contagious nuisance.
1. If you find head lice on your child, set aside time to treat the lice, do laundry, vacuum and pick nits (eggs).
2. Check everyone in your family for lice and nits. Be sure that what you find is truly head lice and/or nits. Lint, dandruff, and hair casts have often been mistaken for nits.
3. Treat everyone found to have lice, nits, or old egg cases. The goal of a treatment is to kill live lice and nits. This can be done in two ways. First, you can use an insecticide (pediculicide) and the secondly you can suffocate them. (More on this below.) A treatment is only the starting point. To end the infestation you need to take time to pull all eggs from the hair once it is dry.
If you choose to use a PEDICULICIDE-read on:
There are a couple basic categories and lice are developing increasing resistance to all of them. Research is showing that 1% permethrin is best. NIX is a brand that contains this and it is available over the counter and safe only when used as directed. Do not use around infants, pregnant, or nursing women, or people with ragweed allergies. If you are taking medication, be sure you ask your doctor before you use a pediculicide. Read all directions-more is not better!
If you cannot or choose to NOT USE A PEDICULICIDE…
you must perform a suffocation treatment. This involves applying a non-water soluble substance to block the lice’s breathing passages. A non-toxic oil like mineral oil can be used, such as Crisco brand vegetable shortening. It shampoos out easily with two applications of Dawn dishwashing liquid. Apply the shortening over the entire scalp and cover with a shower cap for as many hours as possible-overnight being the best.
4. Remember that neither treatment does not kill all lice or eggs and that all nits have to be removed after treatment. Doing so protects you from the nits and survive the treatment and makes it easier to tell if there is new lice activity. To check, work in bright light and methodically check the scalp for lice, which are sesame-seed size. They are rarely seen, but if you find one they are easy to pick up wit a piece of tape, sticky side out, Inspect the full length of hairs for very small white tea drop shaped nits firmly attached to the hairs. Remove nits by pulling them off with you fingernails and placing them in a plastic bag. If you are diligent, you can end this problem in one day.
5. Continue to check everyone in the family daily until you have had two weeks with no sign of louse activity.
6. Repeat the treatment with the pediculicide only if a.) you find live lice or living nits very close to the scalp at least a week after the first treatment, b.) 7-10 days after using an over the counter pediculicide other than NIX, c.) do not repeat pediculicide treatment or use a different chemical treatment within a week of the first treatment.
7. Vacumm all carpets, upholstered furniture, mattresses, child car seats, etc.
8. Launder all bedding, towels, clothing, hats, scarves, and jackets in hot water then dry for 20 minutes on high heat.
9. Any items that cannot be washed and dried as above such as stuff toys and fragile fabrics, need to be stored in tightly closed plastic bags for two weeks or frozen for several days.
10. Wash combs, brushes, and hair items in hot water and soak for at least 20 minutes in at least 130 degrees.
11. NOTIFY THE SCHOOL that you have found head lice and TELL THE PARENTS of you child’s closest contacts (sleep-overs, play-dates, teammates) that you have found lice so that they can check as well.